If your brand isn't local, it's impersonal. But don't worry; you can fix that. The fact is that every brand is connected to a physical location in some way. It could be through the history of the brand, products associated with the brand, or personalities associated with the brand. Being local affords brand personality and intimacy with customers that can't be achieved otherwise.
However, to achieve that personality and intimacy, you need to understand the tools at your disposal. Those tools, and their specific use cases, can lead to a stronger location-based branding presence, but only if used in concert. In other words, the additional branding, traffic, leads, and community outreach that comes with location-based marketing results from clear goals for each tool.
Social media is all about the conversation. But the conversation on Foursquare isn't immediately apparent. With Foursquare, non-local brands have to think creatively about what to offer customers. But the key is just that: Offer customers value. You can do that with Foursquare lists:
A Foursquare list is the perfect tool to broadcast a message about your brand indirectly. Build a list about anything, and let Foursquare users decide how to use it. Here are some ways to use lists:
- List of locations important to your brand across the country or around the world. Where did your brand begin? Was it a garage in Los Altos? Was it a dorm room at Harvard?
- Make a list of stores that sell your products using Foursquare to show customers where they can find you.
- Tell the story of your brand by making a list of your brand's history.
Once you've built lists for your brand, leave tips for people visiting the locations in your lists. Tips are hints about what people should do or see at a location. When someone checks in to a location, tips from users, brands, or lists they follow will pop up telling them to check something out about that location.
Google Places for SEO and business development leads
Whereas Foursquare is a tool for location-based marketing branding, Google Places is tailored toward SEO strategy and business development leads.
In terms of SEO, the big things to note are that Google Places' listings often rank well, especially for people searching in the city of your home office. With Google Places, you can improve your overall ranking, plus include more detailed information as to how customers can best contact you.
In terms of business development and lead generation, potential partners and clients looking for your office will type it into Google Maps on their iPhone -- those maps are powered by Google Places. Anyone in client relations with an iPhone knows the frustration of typing a business name to find directions, then having the wrong address pop up. You're either lost or have to go online to get the real address to paste into Maps. Don't let this happen to potential clients.
Build a local community for branding with Instagram
Instagram gives instant personality and continuity to brands. The more places users find your brand the better. Plus, the photos on Instagram always look great.
Show your customers what your workplace is like. Give a face to your brand. Or, like Foursquare, highlight places important to your brand. Your goal with Instagram should be to cultivate an online community.
Get interactive with Facebook check-ins
Virtually every brand today has a Facebook Page as their centralized presence, but very few of those brands have made their pages "local." All that brands have to do to make their brand local is to add an address to their page settings.
Once an address is added, Facebook users will be able to check in by either tagging their location in a post or by navigating to your page and clicking "check in." Note that users must be within a certain radius before the "check in" button will appear.
Make sure to change your Facebook page type to "Brand" or local business in order to enable users to check in. Otherwise, some page types will not have an option to add an address.
Be location aware with Twitter
Turning on locations in your tweets is a great way to let people know where you are at all times. This can be an especially effective approach if your social media strategy involves lots of pictures. For example, an airline like JetBlue may want to use location-based tweets sent from many of the destinations where it flies, perhaps giving incentive for customers to travel.
Speakers or brands that frequent conferences can also use this service to tell conference goers where they are and potentially make connections. Followers are more likely to engage tweets from someone like Tim Ferris, who is perpetually on the move, if they can check Twitter and see where he is.
However, brands should be careful with features like Twitter location: Once turned on, make sure to disable it when you don't want to send location-based tweets.
Location-based marketing with these tools will help give personality to your brand -- regardless of your location. But before you start, make sure to set goals. The goals you set will then influence the strategy you implement to get there.
Above all, with location comes personality. If your brand doesn't have a physical location, anchor it in social media.
"Travel concept with red pushpin" image via Shutterstock.